The dream of most Pennsylvanians to open up the sale of alcohol to private industry has been elusive and frustrating, a decades-long battle which has not yet been won. Although a privatization bill finally passed the House last year – a monumental accomplishment – it was scuttled by the state Senate, further angering the public.
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi is now providing encouragement to believe that a resurrected bill to which both chambers can agree may reach the governor’s desk early this year. There are many reasons why state residents should hope that he will indeed bring it to fruition.
Pennsylvania and Mormon-dominated Utah stand alone in retaining facets of Prohibition-era restrictions on alcohol sales, which are draconian and counterproductive. I am not a fan of alcohol and am not one who regularly imbibes or drinks to excess. I occasionally enjoy one beer or glass of wine when dining out. I recognize the danger inherent in the use of alcohol, particularly by the many foolish people who consume too much of it, clouding their judgment and their ability to safely operate a vehicle. Alcohol and guns contribute to an epidemic of violence, much of which occurs at dangerous bars patronized by those who cannot handle their alcohol. I recognize, though, that punishing the responsible alcohol consumer is not the means to control its use.
Privatizing the sale of alcohol is one of the three major initiatives sought by Gov. Tom Corbett. He has achieved one: omnibus transportation legislation to maintain the state’s infrastructure; another, pension reform to deal with a staggering $47 billion deficit, continues to languish in our do-little General Assembly. The failure of the Republican Senate to move its governor’s agenda will make it harder for him to win re-election, more likely that a Democratic governor, who will seek a larger state government and higher taxes, will take over the Governor’s Mansion in a year.
The forces of irrationality and special interest have controlled the long and seemingly endless debate over the privatization of alcohol sales. I have to hope and believe that freedom, consumer choice, and competition cannot be forever restrained, and that privatization will soon be enacted.
Corbett has held fast in his belief that the sale of alcohol is not a core function of state government. What reasonable, freedom-loving person whose judgment is unclouded by self-interest could disagree with him?
Upper St. Clair